Alan Moore on “V for Vendetta”

Thanks to Opus for sharing this link.

In this interview with Alan Moore, who wrote the original graphic novel of V for Vendetta, is absolutely right.

The Wachowskis’ film misunderstands the story, and distorts it to be about American liberalism versus American conservatism, instead of about anarchists versus fascists.

Sure, it’s takes place in a futuristic, fascistic London and the characters are British. And yes, you could say this is a cartoonish tale about Nazism.

But come on… the figureheads of British politics in this film have been given all kinds of details so that the audience sees them as a variation on the current U.S. administration. Personally, I think our current administration is misguided, but to react to it by portraying them as spit-spewing devils and child-molesting Christians… and then to glorify characters who organize a terrorist uprising… that’s downright stupid. And once again, we recognize the villains how? They’re the people who think homosexual activity is wrong. Once again, they make things black or white: You either celebrate homosexuality as the pinnacle of human relationship, or you’re a hateful bigot. There’s no room for anything inbetween.

The film spends so much energy demonizing conservatives and lampooning Christians that it never gives much thought to what we should believe in, what we should stand for. “People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people,” says V. And his views win out in the end. So, it’s still a film encouraging a culture of fear, and it concludes by recommending violent retaliation rather than diplomacy and hatred rather than communication.

Here’s a clip from Moore, who had his name removed from the film because he opposed this rewrite of the story:

As far I’m concerned, the two poles of politics were not Left Wing or Right Wing… it seemed to me the two more absolute extremes were anarchy and fascism. This was one of the things I objected to in the recent film, where it seems to be, from the script that I read, sort of recasting it as current American neo-conservatism vs. current American liberalism…

…I tried to be as fair about it as possible. I mean, yes, politically I’m an anarchist; at the same time I didn’t want to stick to just moral blacks and whites. I wanted a number of the fascists I portrayed to be real rounded characters. They’ve got reasons for what they do. They’re not necessarily cartoon Nazis. Some of them believe in what they do, some don’t believe in it but are doing it any way for practical reasons. As for the central character of the anarchist, V himself, he is for the first two or three episodes cheerfully going around murdering people, and the audience is loving it. They are really keyed into this traditional drama of a romantic anarchist who is going around murdering all the Nazi bad guys.

At which point I decided that that wasn’t what I wanted to say. I actually don’t think it’s right to kill people. So I made it very, very morally ambiguous. And the central question is, is this guy right? Or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think about this? Which struck me as a properly anarchist solution.

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  • J Maurone

    Moore is quoted as saying:
    “At which point I decided that that wasn’t what I wanted to say. I actually don’t think it’s right to kill people. So I made it very, very morally ambiguous. And the central question is, is this guy right? Or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think about this? Which struck me as a properly anarchist solution.”

    To put this in perspective, consider a quote from an interview he gave in 1987, regarding Nazi’s:

    http://enattendanth5n1.20minutes-blogs.fr/archive/2013/02/01/rorschach-s-father-the-lost-tapes.html

    ‘The Nazis weren’t villains but ordinary human beings who did terrible things. Her­oes are usually people who, if you happened to be on the opposite side of any battle, would be famous monsters. It is all totally subjective. There aren’t any pure heroes; there aren’t any pure villains; there’s just people. But people like there to be heroes and villains, because if we can say “That person is a monster”, it makes us feel better or not so bad. Or it makes it not our responsibility. Mrs Thatcher isn’t a monster, sh’es just a fairly nondescript intellect, but she’s a greedy and an ambitious woman. It’s too bad that she’s Prime Minister. I mean, if she’d have stayed in her greengrocery business, probably not many peuple would have shopped there an awful lot, but it wouldn’t have done anv great harm. But a lot of the left wing in Britain like to portray Mrs Thatcher as a monster.”

    6 million Jews may beg to differ with him…how would Moore have gone about the liberation of Auschwitz? Diplomacy? Understanding? Empathy with the Nazi’s? Discuss the banality of evil over a cup of tea?

    Moore has gone on to criticize THE KILLING JOKE as being irrelevant to real life, a story that means nothing. Put into context with his view on Nazi’s, no wonder…his pacifism leads to a “dead” end… Considering the ending of that tale, with the Batman extending help to the Joker, who rejects it by making the point with a joke that illustrates that both men are, in fact, insane, I wonder if Moore’s pacifism and smearing of superheroes as fascists are more the result of his projections of his own madness…

  • jasdye

    that was great. i think he hit the nail on the head. it is hard to be public about your faith, in a way where it’s constantly scrutinized by the masses as a supertext (as the ev culture is wont to do), rather than as something that is deeply personal, although lived-out and shared in community. our faith informs us, helps to shape and mold us, but i think that sometimes, in our society, we idolize the practicioners, the celebrities, in such a sense where they live out our faith for us.

    that being said, i really like sufjan’s music.

  • Nick

    I think you’d be pleased to know that Sufjan Stevens has now hit movie-trailer territory:

    http://www.apple.com/trailers/fox_searchlight/littlemisssunshine/

  • CTDelude

    Well, not to be smug, but I feel vindicated in my comments of an earlier post about being wary of things as Christians. Yea something may appear to bring to light issues that are not being spoken of but that doesn’t mean we jump to make people aware of whatever it is without knowing what it’s all about for ourselves. I’ve got many gripes with our current government period (this doesn’t hinge on Left or RIght as Bush is more liberal then conservative in my eyes and government is FAR too big as it is) but unfortunately well reasoned and balanced answers don’t really come from a Hollywood film.

    Great….not only did I sound smug but also preachy….

  • Peter T Chattaway

    I finally started reading The Shining Path’s copy of the graphic novel last night — and I made it about a third of the way through — and I just want to say that the girl’s name, at least there, is Evey, not Evie. :)

    Oh, and I love the way Alan Moore layers everything — “V” sounds like “Evey”, “V” is the number “5″, “V” is the initial used by every word in that five-word Latin phrase that V quotes, etc.

  • Magnus

    >>Evie Hamilton becomes a moral center in this universe, rejecting V’s murderous ways. V is the way of destruction and Evie the way of construction.

    [blink] REALLY? Boy, then the Wachowski’s really HAVE changed things.

    Hmmm… now I am curious. I won’t say much more because you should read it for yourself. What I will say is that Moore’s belief would seem to be that destruction of what had been was integral – necessary evil, but the construction of something new and better was imperative. Perhaps childhood to adolescense into adulthood would be an appropriate example to draw upon?
    V’s anarchy aspires to the idea of “Do What Thou Wilt” (a nod to LaVey) which is an entirely different animal than the baser urges found in the chaotic “Land of Do as You Please”.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Peter, that’s exactly what I wrote down to use as the starting point of my review: Fight Club. Except that this time, love doesn’t save the day… love only fuels the Fight Club’s desire to overthrow any government violently.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    >>Evie Hamilton becomes a moral center in this universe, rejecting V’s murderous ways. V is the way of destruction and Evie the way of construction.

    [blink] REALLY? Boy, then the Wachowski’s really HAVE changed things.

  • Magnus

    I have the graphic novel (well, Pete has it right now, *cough*) and I seem to recall Moore stating in the introduction that “V for Vendetta” was a reaction to the kind of society that was beginning to take root in Britain under Margaret Thatcher. It was a time of enormous socail and political upheaval in the UK, as you might recall.
    Moore’s story is about a free society vs. a strictly controlled one with fingermen and cameras on every corner. Evie Hamilton becomes a moral center in this universe, rejecting V’s murderous ways. V is the way of destruction and Evie the way of construction.
    I was initially interested to see thisfilm, but have cooled to it since discovering the Wachowskis were involved.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Sounds like the movie is Fight Club without the irony.